Camillus SPQR
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Hello,

I thought to announce my turn based strategy game "Populus Romanus" here. Set in the era of early Roman republic, the game has 8 different scenarios about the wars the Romans had against their neighbouring tribes before Rome became the empire that spanned the Mediterranean sea.

Gameplay style is probably quite familiar to people who have played games like Panzer general, Fantasy General, Battle Isle series, UniWar, or a bit more remotely Civilization series or Warlords. There is a free lite version available (having one smallish scenario, the full one has eight and more coming), so feel free to take a look if you dig it :-)

Works on tablets and phones all alike, runs on any Android version 2.1 upwards, with all screen sizes / resolutions. Single-player and Local Multiplayer game modes supported.

The game is available on Android Market:

Full version: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.populusromanus
Lite version: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.populusromanus_fre...

And also available on Amazon Appstore:

Full version: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006376WM4?ie=UTF8&ref=mas_...
Lite version: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006376X3M?ie=UTF8&ref=mas_...

Click the picture for larger image:


Comments, suggestions and such are naturally welcome!
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Luke Hughes

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Sounds fun. Will you publish for iPhone?
 
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Camillus SPQR
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An iOS version has been in my mind, but I'll first see if the game is successful enough on Android to make it worthwhile to port it to other platforms as well ... time will show.
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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Well done! I played a few turns in the free version. I think it is very well implemented, much like the old games you mention.

What I didn't like is that it felt more like 20th century wars than ancients to me. A front quickly formed, giving few opportunities to outflank the enemy, and then both sides slugged it out for a few turns before I got bored and quit. My units were in very bad shape at that time, so I doubt I would have been able to break through. Felt a bit like 1914.

If you use the same engine but retheme it for some 20th century war I think it could be a hit.

I guess though that Fantasy General has the same "problem" (never played it), but people like that anyway, so maybe I am in a majority? I just think it didn't feel like marching around ancient armies on the map.

Guess the 3 hit points each unit have didn't help, that any unit would be likely to be able to hold ground for several turns (I could rarely inflict more than 1 hit per turn). You couldn't march up a strong army and quickly eliminate some weak enemy unit, or at least route it, from what I could tell.

The battle screen didn't say which unit was mine and which was the enemy's, it only show the units and writes out what type they are, but to a new player it wasn't easy to quickly tell which one was the Roman.

In Panzer General and some other similar games you can select a unit, move it, then immediately click a target to attack. I think that is better than having to re-select the unit after moving when you want to attack.

The battles felt much like 50 % chance of winning, even with a much stronger unit and outflanking bonuses? Maybe it was just bad luck, but it felt like losses were fairly randomly distributed, not like my veteran legions were much more valuable than the weaker units?

There was something odd about rendering speed I noticed on my old phone. Along the edges of the map, showing mostly black, it scrolls very fast. It also scrolls fast if it is zoomed in close. At a more zoomed-out setting, especially with many units visible, it scolls very slowly. I guess you redraw everything on the screen every frame, rather than rendering off-screen and just copying the visible part to the screen? The latter is probably better? (On a fast device you might not notice it being faster, but perhaps it would save some battery not having to redraw everything every frame?
 
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Camillus SPQR
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pelni wrote:

If you use the same engine but retheme it for some 20th century war I think it could be a hit.


An another game with a 20th / 21st century setting is actually in the plans ... Populus Romanus is just the beginning of a "series" (in other words, it's my first ever try in designing and implementing wargame but definitely not the last).

pelni wrote:
Well done! I played a few turns in the free version. I think it is very well implemented, much like the old games you mention.

What I didn't like is that it felt more like 20th century wars than ancients to me. A front quickly formed, giving few opportunities to outflank the enemy, and then both sides slugged it out for a few turns before I got bored and quit. My units were in very bad shape at that time, so I doubt I would have been able to break through. Felt a bit like 1914.


Very good observation! To make the frontlines break up more, I'm thinking of adding a "Charge" attack (not sure about the name yet) for the strongest infantry units and cavalry; when using this kind of attack the unit pushes enemy unit 1 hex backwards, if the attack was successful, and moves self to the position where enemy was before. However, if the enemy is not able to retreat (no free hex behind), it takes an additional hit.

This should provide some interesting tactical choices: One can quickly kill off weak units that are unable to flee, or use it to break through enemy lines. While breaking through, one is however left vulnerable to being outflanked (as the unit doing a charge attack automatically moved forward).

pelni wrote:

I guess though that Fantasy General has the same "problem" (never played it), but people like that anyway, so maybe I am in a majority? I just think it didn't feel like marching around ancient armies on the map.

Guess the 3 hit points each unit have didn't help, that any unit would be likely to be able to hold ground for several turns (I could rarely inflict more than 1 hit per turn). You couldn't march up a strong army and quickly eliminate some weak enemy unit, or at least route it, from what I could tell.


I think I will eventually differentiate the units a bit. Weaker infantry units and basic horseman to have 2 hit points instead of 3, and the absolutely strongest units to have 4. I have to playtest a bit if that makes a huge difference to game balance.

pelni wrote:

The battle screen didn't say which unit was mine and which was the enemy's, it only show the units and writes out what type they are, but to a new player it wasn't easy to quickly tell which one was the Roman.


Good point, I should add nation names there, or alternatively denote units as "you" and "them".

pelni wrote:

In Panzer General and some other similar games you can select a unit, move it, then immediately click a target to attack. I think that is better than having to re-select the unit after moving when you want to attack.


This one is a bit of a preference issue ... personally, I consider that kind of automatic switch to attack mode a bit irritating (afterall, maybe the player would first like to set up several units to the attack positions, and then attack). However, I reckon there might be other viewpoints to this also, so I'll add a configuration option to settings menu to enable this behaviour.

pelni wrote:

The battles felt much like 50 % chance of winning, even with a much stronger unit and outflanking bonuses? Maybe it was just bad luck, but it felt like losses were fairly randomly distributed, not like my veteran legions were much more valuable than the weaker units?


Terrain makes a great difference. When defending rougher terrain types even the weakest units can often win. To make this a bit more obvious the latest version now has the battle winning odds displayed (as simple percentages below unit figure in battle view).

pelni wrote:

There was something odd about rendering speed I noticed on my old phone. Along the edges of the map, showing mostly black, it scrolls very fast. It also scrolls fast if it is zoomed in close. At a more zoomed-out setting, especially with many units visible, it scolls very slowly. I guess you redraw everything on the screen every frame, rather than rendering off-screen and just copying the visible part to the screen? The latter is probably better? (On a fast device you might not notice it being faster, but perhaps it would save some battery not having to redraw everything every frame?


Yes, it redraws everything each frame. This is fundamentally how OpenGL ES works. Sure, in the current form of the game I could render game map to a texture, but then I wouldn't be able to add various kinds of animations to hexes (e.g. wave animations to ocean hexes) in future without affecting framerate ... or a tilted 3D view of the game. I like to keep options open for the time being

And besides, having map pre-rendered into a texture is somewhat problematic with the zooming, I would end up using either huge amounts of memory, or risking having performance issues (stuttering) while zooming in / out.

Anyway, thanks a LOT for your comments, they were extremely valuable!
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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Camillus wrote:


An another game with a 20th / 21st century setting is actually in the plans ... Populus Romanus is just the beginning of a "series" (in other words, it's my first ever try in designing and implementing wargame but definitely not the last).


Good news. And a very nice first attempt.

Quote:

Very good observation! To make the frontlines break up more, I'm thinking of adding a "Charge" attack ...


I don't know if there is an easy work-around like that. It seems like there are just too many units on the map. Before late 19th century the reason you didn't have long front lines was that they simply didn't have the manpower (besides logistic problems, but I guess the two go hand in hand). Many might not worry about that and play the game anyway though.

But if units that lose a battle are often forced to retreat, as they are in many wargames (although not Panzer General) that would at least make things more fluid.

Quote:
pelni wrote:

In Panzer General and some other similar games you can select a unit, move it, then immediately click a target to attack. I think that is better than having to re-select the unit after moving when you want to attack.


This one is a bit of a preference issue ... personally, I consider that kind of automatic switch to attack mode a bit irritating (afterall, maybe the player would first like to set up several units to the attack positions, and then attack).


Good point. In Panzer General there is, as far as I can remember, not often a reason to move several units to set up an attack (and also a bit quicker to de-select units when you have an right mousebutton), like there is in this game. It might be better to have it like it is now.

Quote:
the battle winning odds displayed (as simple percentages below unit figure in battle view).


Sounds good!

Quote:
Yes, it redraws everything each frame. This is fundamentally how OpenGL ES works.


Oh. I was assuming it was not using OpenGL, since I didn't expect my phone to be THAT slow. I agree you should probably redraw everything each frame then. Might be some optimizations to do, but if only ancient phones are affected I guess it is not worth it.
 
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